Renovated Housing Complex for Elderly Celebrated


The Free Press
Dan Lineham
June 15, 2012

Mondale attends dedication of Orness Plaza

MANKATO — Gary Peterson likes living in the renovated Orness Plaza. He likes the central air, the new appliances, the bigger closets. He likes playing pool in the game room and exercising in the new fitness room.

The five-year resident has always enjoyed watching baseball at Franklin Rogers Park out of his seventh-floor window. And the new windows have tighter seals, so they don’t leave rooms drafty in the winter.

The average age of Orness Plaza residents is 74, and four-year resident Cheryl Rader acknowledges that some residents complain about the new-ness.


Orness Plaza has 101 units, of which all but three are one-bedroom, and is owned by the city. Residents’ rent is based on their income, which in this case means they pay 30 percent of their income as rent.


The renovations were funded by a $9.16 million federal stimulus grant.

Orness Plaza is also the site of a first-of-its-kind study that aims to determine if environmentally friendly construction makes the elderly healthier.

David Jacobs, director of research for the National Center for Healthy Housing, is leading the $650,000 study.

The data won’t be in until next year, but he said he believes this sort of construction will cut down on diseases such as asthma, mental health and heart problems.

While there are seven vacancies at Orness Plaza, there is a waiting list 60 names deep. The city is still accepting applications.

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